The perfect gift for a toddler

In the next couple of weeks, my niece turns two. (I actually wrote, and deleted, the words “baby niece” – she’s [unbelievably] going to be two!)

The weeks leading up to any birthday is, of course, ideal shopping time. You can head to the stores, scour the racks, find good deals, all in hopes of being the aunt who shows up with arms full of designer clothes and awesome toys – because you planned ahead, and you knew just what she wanted.

If only this aunt was as prepared.

Between work- and life-related craziness, my desire to really get outside and enjoy the beautiful weather we’ve been having (hello, spring!), appointments, redecorating, and errands, I’ve been slacking in the Super Aunt department. Since I didn’t want to be “that guy” who shows up with something she obviously picked up at Rite Aid and wrapped five minutes prior to the party – not that there’s anything wrong with that, but hey, this kid’s my flesh and blood – I buckled down this weekend to get my niece a gift.

I thought that, if I missed the boat on in-person sales, I could probably find some good deals online. Online stores tend to have a greater selection, and the clearance racks aren’t noticeably picked-over with rumpled shirts sadly clinging to hangers for dear life.

I started on Zulily – if you’re trying to save money, learn from me: do not install this app on your phone. It alerts me every day to sales (for kids/adults/home goods/makeup/beauty – the whole nine yards). They have awesome, unique stuff that I sometimes just can’t help buying. Zulily touts a lot of name brands, but also some less-expensive stuff that’s still cute for my niece or perfect for my house. Zulily is my own personal rabbit hole that I tumble down basically every day.

And yes, I know I could probably turn the alerts off – but who would want to miss out on a good sale?

Zulily’s great for toys, especially – I think my niece and nephew will be the only kids on the block with a toy smoothie or sushi set.

That said, the site sometimes takes a couple of weeks to ship. So, while I added a few things to my cart and pressed “check out,” I’m not counting on those things to be our birthday presents. (Maybe “first day of preschool” presents, or “just because” presents – because, after all, I gotta be the cool aunt.)

I scoured a few different usual kid-clothes suspects – Gymboree, Janie and Jack, Target (they have the cutest asymmetrical zip jacket) before I landed on – aha! – an online sale at Carters and Osh Kosh. Twenty minutes later, my cart was full and my wallet wasn’t too light. I don’t want to spoil the surprise, but my niece is going to be the hippest kid at the baby pool this summer.

This rush taught me something – and not just that they make ripped skinny jeans in size 2T. It taught me – chronic planner, habitual do-it-aheader – that the planet will not stop spinning if things aren’t done weeks or months ahead of time. My world won’t come to a halt, just because I haven’t planned out every weekend of every month, starting on day one. There is always time to enjoy the great outdoors; there’s always an extra half hour to walk your dog; there’s always room for moments that really make you happy. You’ll get it all done – maybe not right away, maybe not “first thing,” but you’ll get it all done.

And even that can be kind of an adventure.

‘Til next week,





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